Fi­nally, a cast full of women graces the sil­ver screen

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - FRONT PAGE - In Life

“Ocean’s 8” stars Blanchett, Bul­lock, Paul­son talk about what spinoff means at this mo­ment in Hol­ly­wood.

NEW YORK – Sorry, Avengers: In­fin­ity War. You’re not the most am­bi­tious cross­over event in his­tory. ❚ That would be Ocean’s 8 (in the­aters Fri­day), which as­sem­bles an all-fe­male team of Os­car win­ners and nom­i­nees (San­dra Bul­lock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, He­lena Bon­ham Carter), TV stars (Sarah Paul­son, Mindy Kal­ing) and mu­si­cians (Ri­hanna, Awk­wa­fina) for a sharp, stylish re­boot of the Ocean’s heist fran­chise.

Bul­lock, 53, leads the pack as Debbie Ocean, sis­ter of late con man Danny (Ge­orge Clooney), who steps out of jail and back into old habits with an elab­o­rate plan to rob a di­a­mond neck­lace from the ex­clu­sive Met Gala. Blanchett, 49, and Paul­son, 43, co-star as Debbie’s for­mer part­ners-in-crime Lou and Tammy, who go un­der­cover and lend their skills to the high-stakes job.

Ques­tion: Be­fore Ocean’s, what’s the last pro­ject you re­mem­ber do­ing that had even a frac­tion of this num­ber of women in lead roles?

Bul­lock: I did a film called Prac­ti­cal Magic and there were a lot of parts for women.

Paul­son: I’ve been re­ally lucky on

Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story be­cause there are so many women — and women over 40.

Blanchett: Of­ten you walk on set, and un­til the hair and makeup peo­ple come in, you’re the only woman. So the ra­tio is 1 to 45? To have more fe­male crew mem­bers would be great, but it was so great to have a fan­tas­tic, huge fe­male cast (in Ocean’s 8).

Q: How did the con­ver­sa­tions on set com­pare with other films you’ve worked on with pre­dom­i­nantly male co-stars?

Bul­lock: (For many years), there was a nat­u­ral sep­a­ra­tion of the women in this busi­ness, whether we brought it on our­selves or whether it was think­ing there’s only one job for 7,000 women . ... I found my­self very ed­u­cated by this film and very em­pow­ered. I feel like I was given ker­nels of knowl­edge (by my co-stars) that I was like, ‘Wow, even at this point in my life, I’m still learning how to un­der­stand and nav­i­gate my ca­reer.’ ”

Blanchett: There’s a real cul­ture of fear in­stilled in women, that if you talk about fail­ure, then you’re show­ing weak­ness. To work with other women who have (sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences) is great. You throw (your prob­lems) in the mid­dle and find a so­lu­tion.

Q: Cate, you said a few years ago that when­ever a fe­male-led film suc­ceeds at the box of­fice, peo­ple are quick to call it “re­mark­able.” Do you feel there’s been progress or are we still hav­ing the same con­ver­sa­tions?

Blanchett: I do hon­estly feel like it’s Ground­hog Day. This film is a won­der­ful, fun romp and piece of en­ter­tain­ment. If this is be­ing forced by the me­dia to stand for all fe­male-cen­tric films, it’s an enor­mous pres­sure — it’s un­sus­tain­able. And (whether it suc­ceeds or fails), it makes it dif­fi­cult for other films with women at the cen­ter to sink or swim on their own merit.

Q: Laura Dern re­cently said that un­til Me Too, she didn’t re­al­ize her ex­pe­ri­ences with ha­rass­ment were ha­rass­ment. Have you sim­i­larly re-eval­u­ated dur­ing this past year?

Blanchett: When I first en­tered the film in­dus­try, I thought, “That’s just the way the in­dus­try is.” You’d do an in­ter­view and they’d go, “Wow, you don’t suf­fer fools.” And you went, “You asked me a ques­tion and I an­swered it.” And so you’d be talked about in a cer­tain way, and you’d go, “OK, maybe I won’t prof­fer my opin­ion.” Or you’d go into an au­di­tion and think, “Oh, I think I’m meant to flirt here.” And if you didn’t flirt, then you wouldn’t get the job. So for me, it took a lit­tle while to find di­rec­tors in the film in­dus­try who knew what to do with me.

Q: Half the fun of this movie is see­ing if and how your char­ac­ters will pull off the heist. Grow­ing up, what’s some­thing that you got away with?

Blanchett: I used to go around to peo­ple’s houses on a dare and pre­tend that I’d lost my dog. (One time), I was pre­tend­ing to cry, and the fam­ily gave me a hug and a cookie.

Paul­son: It’s like “early-on­set very se­ri­ous actress.” I’d go up to shop­ping coun­ters and ask ques­tions in funny ac­cents, like English and Aus­tralian. I also pre­tended to be blind. I was 13.

Bul­lock: I used to dig up weeds from my par­ents’ back­yard, re-pot them, and sold them to our neigh­bors. I was en­tre­pre­neur­ial.

“I found my­self very ed­u­cated by this film ... I feel like I was given ker­nels of knowl­edge (by my co-stars) that I was like, ‘Wow ... I’m still learning how to un­der­stand and nav­i­gate my ca­reer.’ ” San­dra Bul­lock

Q: If you could cast any woman in an Ocean’s 9 se­quel, who would it be? Paul­son: Emma Thomp­son. Blanchett: Jane Fonda.

Bul­lock: Charo. I think Charo needs to have a mo­ment back on the sil­ver screen.

Q: What film would you like to re­boot or re­make with your Ocean’s co-stars?

Bul­lock: Das Boot. All of us stuck on a boat would be fun.

Paul­son: 12 An­gry Men, but I don’t like the idea of 12 An­gry Women. But it’s got 12 parts, so maybe just 12 women work­ing to­gether re­ally hard to try and come up with so­lu­tions.

BARRY WETCHER/AP

PHO­TOS BY BARRY WETCHER

Lou (Cate Blanchett, left), Debbie (San­dra Bul­lock) and Tammy (Sarah Paul­son) build a team to steal a $150 mil­lion di­a­mond neck­lace from the neck of a fa­mous actress (Anne Hathaway) in “Ocean’s 8.”

Debbie (Bul­lock), Tammy (Paul­son) and Lou (Blanchett) get an as­sist from re­cruits Nine Ball (Ri­hanna), a hacker, and Con­stance (Awk­wa­fina), a pick­pocket.

MIKE COP­POLA/ GETTY IM­AGES

Six of “Ocean’s 8”: Sarah Paul­son, Awk­wa­fina, San­dra Bul­lock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway and Mindy Kal­ing.

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